Comcast outflanked rival Twenty-First Century Fox in a $39 billion takeover of British broadcaster Sky on Saturday, submitting a much higher bid in a rare three-round auction that pitted two of America's largest media companies against one another.
The U.S. cable giant outbid its rival by $3.6 billion, offering £17.28 (over $22 per share, according to current exchange rates). Rupert Murdoch's Fox offered £15.67 (over $20) per Sky share, according to an official statement from the Takeover Panel.
This follows a protracted bidding battle between Comcast and Fox over the coveted overseas competitor. The blind auction format is a highly unusual one for a deal as closely watched as the Sky acquisition. Takeover auctions are normally reserved for commercial transactions. In such auctions, bidders submit sealed offers to a third-party arbiter.
A person close to the process told CNBC Saturday that Comcast wanted to ensure the company had paid enough of a premium over Disney's bid to sway shareholders inclined to go with Fox/Disney, based on their existing 39 percent stake in Sky.
Meanwhile, a separate source familiar with Comcast's thinking told CNBC they expect Comcast to begin talks regarding Disney potentially selling its Sky stake to Comcast. The latter could also sell its 30 percent stake in Hulu, an American online entertainment service, the source added.